Statement of Support for the UN Independent Expert on SOGI

Statement of Support for the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, and his mandate, on the occasion of his visit to the UK, April 24 – May 5, 2023

We, the undersigned British academics, warmly welcome the visit to the UK (April 24 to May 5) of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz. Victor is an eminent Costa-Rican jurist and an expert in international human rights law, currently in residence at Harvard Law School. The mandate of the Independent Expert, created by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016, is to explore ways to better protect people who suffer violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

International human rights law is universal. It is inclusive of all human beings in all their diversity, including those who are same-sex attracted, transgender and gender non-conforming. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the enjoyment of all human rights is clearly prohibited. Despite this, shocking reports of killings, violence, stigmatisation, bullying and marginalisation, because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, continue to emerge from all parts of the world, including in the UK.

This dire situation highlights the fundamental importance and urgency of the Independent Expert’s mandate. He has worked hard to dismantle the harmful social and cultural prejudices that have helped normalise the inhumane treatment of sexual and gender minorities in the past. In international human rights law, the antiquity of such prejudices is no justification for their continuation. The Independent Expert has called for the immediate decriminalisation and depathologisation of non-heteronormative sexual orientations and gender identities, including banning so-called conversion therapies. In addition, towards fully realising the humanity of sexual and gender minorities, he has urged the legal recognition of same-sex relationships and families, and of self-determined gender identity.

We fully endorse all these aspects of the Independent Expert’s work and welcome any recommendations he makes following his visit to the UK.

Cosponsors and Signatories:

  1. Dr Abeera Khan (SOAS University of London)
  2. Professor Alex Sharpe (Warwick University)
  3. Dr Alexander Powell (Oxford Brookes University)
  4. Professor Alison Phipps [cosponsor] (Newcastle University)
  5. Dr Andrew Delatolla (University of Leeds)
  6. Professor Emerita Anne Phillips (London School of Economics)
  7. Professor Aoife O’Donoghue (Queen’s University Belfast)
  8. Dr Aeyal Gross (SOAS University of London)
  9. Dr Bee Hughes (Liverpool John Moores University)
  10. Professor Catherine O’Rourke (Durham University)
  11. Professor Clare Hemmings [cosponsor] (London School of Economics )
  12. Dr Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg (University of Birmingham)
  13. Dr Daragh Murray (Queen Mary University of London)
  14. Professor Davina Cooper (King’s College London)
  15. Dr Dean Cooper Cunningham (University of Sheffield)
  16. Professor Emerita Didi Herman [cosponsor] (University of Kent)
  17. Professor Eddie Bruce-Jones (SOAS University of London)
  18. Dr EJ Gonzalez-Polledo (Goldsmiths University of London)
  19. Dr Emily Jones (Newcastle University)
  20. Professor Fiona de Londras (University of Birmingham)
  21. Dr Flora Renz (University of Kent)
  22. Dr Francesca Romana Ammaturo (Coventry University)
  23. Professor Gina Heathcote [cosponsor] (SOAS University of London)
  24. Dr Grietje Baars (Citu University London)
  25. Dr Henry Jones (Durham University)
  26. Dr Jamie J. Hagen (Queen’s University Belfast) 
  27. Dr Jane Rooney (Durham University)
  28. Dr Jess Gifkins (University of Manchester)
  29. Professor Jessica Ringrose (University College London)
  30. Professor Jo Winning (Birkbeck University of London)
  31. Dr Kate Davison (University of Edinburgh)
  32. Dr Kay Crosby (Newcastle University)
  33. Dr Kay Lalor (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  34. Dr Koen Slootmaeckers (City University London)
  35. Dr Lena Holzer (Goldsmiths University of London)
  36. Dr. Loveday Hodson (University of Leicester)
  37. Dr Lucia Kula (SOAS University of London)
  38. Professor Máiréad Enright (University of Birmingham)
  39. Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana (Queen’s University Belfast)
  40. Dr Maria Moscati (University of Sussex)
  41. Professor Mark Walters (University of Sussex)
  42. Professor Matthew Waites [cosponsor] (University of Glasgow)
  43. Dr Mayur Suresh (SOAS University of London)
  44. Dr Meghan Campbell (University of Birmingham)
  45. Dr Melanie Richter-Montpetit (University of Sussex)
  46. Dr Michelle Staggs-Kelsall (SOAS University of London)
  47. Dr Monish Bhatia (University of York)
  48. Professor Natasa Mavronicola (University of Birmingham)
  49. Professor Nicola Barker (University of Liverpool)
  50. Professor Nicola Carr (University of Nottingham)
  51. Dr Nikki Godden-Rasul (Newcastle University)
  52. Professor Nuno Ferreira (University of Sussex)
  53. Professor Pam Alldred (Nottingham Trent University)
  54. Dr Patricia Palacios Zuloaga (University of Essex)
  55. Professor Phillip Ayoub (University College London)
  56. Professor Rachel Thomson (University of Sussex)
  57. Dr Rahul Rao (University of St Andrews)
  58. Retracted
  59. Dr Ruth Fletcher (Queen Mary University of London)
  60. Dr Safet HadžiMuhamedović (University of Cambridge)
  61. Professor Sally Hines (University of Sheffield)
  62. Dr Samuel Ritholtz (University of Oxford)
  63. Dr Sarah Lamble (Birkbeck)
  64. Dr Senthorun Raj (Mancester Metropolitan)
  65. Professor Shakuntala Banaji (LSE)
  66. Dr Sheri Labenski (Goldsmiths)
  67. Dr Silvia Posocco (Birkbeck University of London)
  68. Dr Sophie Chamas (SOAS University of London)
  69. Professor Emeritus Stephen Whittle (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  70. Professor Sumi Madhok (London School of Economics)
  71. Professor Tanya Aplin (King’s College London)
  72. Dr Tanya Serisier (Birkbeck University of London)
  73. Dr Thiago Alves Pinto (University of Oxford)
  74. Professor Toni Haastrup (University of Stirling)
  75. Professor Vanita Sundaram (University of York)
  76. Dr Vanja Hamzić [cosponsor] (SOAS University of London)
  77. Dr Xanthe Whittaker (University of Leeds)
  78. Dr Yassin Brunger (Queen’s University Belfast)
  79. Dr Yvette Russell (University of Bristol)
  80. Dr Louise Arimatsu (LSE)

Further enquiries please contact:


Centre co-hosts NYC based Conversation Cafe inviting participants to ask ‘How do we queer peace and security?’

In March of 2023 the Centre for Gender in Politics had the opportunity co-organize and co-host the first Conversation Cafe alongside the CSW67 in NYC. The event provided a space for those interested in learning more or sharing your ideas about Queering Peace and Security. The event was in-person event will take place in the format of a conversation café guided by facilitators to discuss how and why it matters to Queer the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agendas.

The event was co-hosted by:

The event also included facilitated discussions on Queering Peace and Security across various contexts. You do not need to identify yourself as part of the LGBTIQA+ community to attend this event. We look forward to celebrating the existing efforts to Queer Peace and Security and to co-creating new ways forward to amplify LGBTQIA+ leadership in peace and security. This event was trans inclusive and all participants are required to comply with the code of conduct included below.

Themes for the tables included:

  • Queering Peace and Security – Leadership from the Global Sout
  • Queering National Action Plans
  • Queer Youth Leadership
  • Feminist and Queer Alliances
  • Queering Peace and Security – From Local to Global

Each of the conversation tables led to four key take-aways.

Leadership from the Global South:

  1. It is crucial that LGBTQI+ organizations are reached out to from the very beginning to address lack of knowledge and local context.
  2. We are experiencing resistance around including LGBTQI+ issues in peace and security work by feminist movements and there is concern that anything including a broader gender approach will be shut down within the Security Council and General Assembly.
  3. It is important to address the role of colonization in bringing a gender binary, and many Indigenous groups (e.g. Mexico) do not all acknowledge themselves as “men” and “women”.
  4. The WPS and YPS agendas create an important space for key LGBTQI+ issues to be addressed (including violence against trans women, death penalty, hate crimes, etc.).

Youth Movements:

  1. Young people are using the YPS agenda to push for the inclusion of LGBTQI+ issues within the peace and security sector and address areas where the WPS agenda is limited by being overly binary and exclusive of the LGBTQI+ community (especially the trans community).
  2. We currently have an estimated 1.8 billion youth between the ages of 15-30 worldwide and many have identified youth as a key actor to advance the inclusion of LGBTQI+ issues within peace and security work. Young leaders working in YPS and LGBTQI+ issues must be fully and meaningfully engaged in conversations around Queering Peace & Security and must be involved in all aspects of this work.
  3. The YPS agenda has the unique partnerships pillar which creates an important avenue for partnership with LGBTQI+ organizations and activists.
  4. Organizations/entities working on WPS and YPS are already working with LGBTQI+ individuals, whether they realize it or not, so it is important to be intentional in that work. E.g,, if an organization is working on WPS and Refugees, they are already working with LGBTQ+ refugees. There is not a lot of clear data representing the accurate size of the LGBTQ+ community globally, but we exist globally (not just a western concept) and are impacted by all issues covered under the WPS and YPS as well as additional security threats based on being LGBTQI+.

Local to Global:

  1. There is significant exclusion of LGBTQI+ individuals in humanitarian assistance programs.
  2. We need to ensure the LGBTQ+ experience is not generalized as it is different globally and many actors are not aware of the true reality within certain regions.
  3. It is important to address online violence against LGBTQI+ individuals and organizations through the peace and security agenda (links to cybersecurity work already happening in the peace and security sector).
  4. The LGBTQI+ community feels unheard and ignored in these spaces and we need to ensure a ‘bottom-up’ approach.

National Action Plans:

  1. Personal stories of LGBTQ people (from the community, from women peacebuilder’s own families” can resist the idea t LGBTQI+ rights as a western concept.
  2. When drafting NAPs it is important for states as well as civil society actors to revisit who is inviting people to the consultations and how are they invited to be sure to discuss gender in a broad way.
  3. We do not need a new resolution on LGBTQ+, we need better inclusion in the WPS and YPS agendas. Language in the agendas as well as in NAPs is too vague. Gender does not mean women. There are ways to include LGBTQ issues within other work by women’s peacebuilding efforts and direct services like reproductive health.
  4. NAPs are often used as a tool of foreign policy and many countries are not looking internally and are often disconnected from issues happening in their own regions

Notes from the conversations cafe were gathered by notetakers working with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Key points compiled by Alexandria Kazmerik Bohémier.

Photographs by Leandro Justen (@leandrojusten).

In the name of peace: situating resistance to abortion access in Northern Ireland as anti-gender attacks

While anti-gender movements are considered relatively recent phenomena, feminist research has increasingly considered anti-gender manifestations across a range of sites, from education to the United Nations. However, there is still little known about the relationship between peace and anti-gender movements, particularly the potential exploitation of peace agreements by anti-gender actors. With 2023 being the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), I briefly consider the use of the GFA as a tool by anti-gender actors to curtail gender equality in Northern Ireland. To do so, I ask what if we considered the resistance and pushback to abortion rights in a post-GFA Northern Ireland as motivated by anti-gender logics?

Due to its fragile circumstances, Northern Ireland was seen as having its “own conservative, deeply religious culture and values”[1] which meant abortion was framed as a ‘moral issue’ for local resolution. This has permeated Northern Irish politics throughout the past 25 years, where women’s reproductive rights have been repeatedly secondary to the ‘fragile talks’ to restore the Northern Irish Executive. Consequently, the issue of abortion has been situated as a trigger for breakdown in relations in the peace process. This rhetoric of abortion undermining peace has resurfaced in recent years after demands for abortion access were significantly renewed post the 2018 abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland. Although Sinn Féin has shifted its stance to supporting abortion rights, the DUP, and Protestant and Catholic churches, remain ‘vigorously opposed’ to abortion rights. In 2019, when the British government undertook legalising abortion in NI, the DUP persisted that abortion access was a threat to political stability and to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive. This resistance to abortion legislation by political and religious actors is a veiled attempt to hold abortion rights hostage in the name of ‘protecting’ peace and the GFA. Consequently, the mobilisation of these conflicting actors around abortion, an issue often mobilised against by anti-gender actors, is indicative of ongoing anti-gender manifestation in NI.

Such resistance to reproductive health and rights is often seen across anti-gender mobilisations and is emblematic of anti-‘gender ideology’ logics. Anti-gender manifestations are more than just ad hoc occurrences, increasingly they are being recorded as transnational political movements. ‘Gender ideology’ has become an ‘empty signifier’ that unites disparate actors who use dissonant logics to attack their object of protest. These shared logics traverse movements to underpin contextual occurrences such as LGBTQ Free Zones in Poland or the withdrawal of gender studies in Hungary. In terms of Northern Ireland, the amalgamation of disparate actors uniting to counter abortion access ‘in the name of peace’ can be situated as anti-gender manifestations. However, contrary to these claims that legalising abortion would undermine peaceful relations, it is the lack of abortion access that prevents peace being realised. Thomson and Pierson (2018) have situated reproductive health access and rights as fundamental to security, health, and human rights. Thus, by refusing to comprehensively engage with reproductive health, the Northern Irish Executive and British government have legitimised anti-gender actors’ positioning of abortion as a threat to peace.

As a result, such anti-gender actors continue to undermine a gendered peace and firmly position reproductive rights on the periphery of peace in Northern Ireland.  Peace processes that lack gendered perspectives leave both women and other marginalised actors, such as the LGBTQ community, worse off socioeconomically post-conflict. Even where peace processes included a gendered lens, a continuum of violence remains when post-conflict societies maintain patriarchal structures. For example, in Northern Ireland, despite a gendered lens underpinning the GFA, there has been a rise in gender-based violence. Thus, this illustrates that not only are gendered perspectives vital during peace processes, but they must be upheld and nurtured post-conflict to ensure a holistic and transformative gendered peace. It could be argued that the continued side-lining of reproductive rights in Northern Ireland maintains a continuum of structural violence and upholds a patriarchal society in the post-GFA era. Thus, addressing the persistent lack of abortion access in a post-GFA Northern Ireland would allow for women to be rights-bearing individuals and continued participants in a gendered peace. To allow the continued use of the GFA to prevent abortion rights by anti-gender actors would be to prevent such a transformative and gendered post-conflict society.

Consequently, while the GFA provided a foundational platform for the insertion of gendered perspectives in Northern Irish peace, the remaining political instability and patriarchal power has not only side-lined reproductive health, but has opened the door to anti-gender expressions. Anti-gender movements, although materialising contextually, are underpinned by shared objects, logics and actors. Subsequently, if peace in Northern Ireland is conditioned on a continued lack of abortion access, this opens the door for further use of the GFA by anti-gender actors to attack other objects of protest, namely LGBTQ rights. Similarly to their opposition to abortion rights, the DUP, and the Protestant and Catholic churches remain doggedly resistant to LGBTQ rights. As such the possibility remains of anti-gender actors holding LGBTQ rights hostage in the name of ‘protecting’ the GFA and Northern Irish peace. Twenty-five years on, we must ensure that the GFA is not used to further advance a cis-heteronormative patriarchal peace; one that excludes diverse perspectives and side-lines those already marginalised in peace processes and politics such as women and LGBTQ+ persons.

[1] Sheldon, S., O’Neill, J., Parker, C., & Davis, G. (2020). ‘Too Much, too Indigestible, too Fast’? The Decades of Struggle for Abortion Law Reform in Northern Ireland. Modern Law Review, 83(4), p.767

Oonagh Wallace is a graduate of the MSc Gender, Peace and Security programme at the London School for Economics and Political Science. She is particularly interested in the intersections of anti-gender movements and peace processes. Her dissertation explored how peace agreements are at risk of exploitation by anti-gender actors as sites of both resistance and production. Oonagh currently works in policy and campaigns at PES Women where she focuses on policy regarding gender equality in the EU.

Second in Queering WPS Policy brief series:Supporting Queer Feminist Mobilizations for Peace and Security

The second policy brief in our Queering Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief series co-authored by Chitra Nagarajan and Jamie J. Hagen focuses on supporting queer feminist mobilization for peace and security.

Those committed to gender justice have spent decades promoting the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, most notably achieving recognition by the Security Council in its Resolution 1325 and subsequent WPS Resolutions. Yet, conversations, analysis, and decision making continue to not fully address the gendered dimensions of violence and operate within heteronormative (the assumption that everyone is heterosexual) and cisnormative (that assumption that everyone identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth, and those who do not are considered “abnormal”) views.

As conflict places those socially excluded – including people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, sex characteristics and gender expressions (SOGIESC) – most at risk and is driven by hetero- and cisnormativity as well as gender inequality, the development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding sectors need to ensure a more equitable peace for all. Beyond inclusive provision of humanitarian aid and recognising the shared root causes of violence, a queering of this agenda invites broader understanding of both peace and security. It recognizes that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) people experience harm during peacetime and may be targeted to a greater degree following political wins such as the securing of gender rights within a peace deal.

In this policy brief, we centre the experiences of activists working at the intersection of WPS and LGBTQIA human rights and highlight the importance of listening to and reflecting their views, experiences and needs. We presenting the work already being done and the challenges activists face before outlining entry points that exist to better support them.

The policy brief responds to three questions:

  1. What work is already being done?
  2. What challenges do activists face?
  3. What entry points exist to better support activists?

We thank all of those who spoke with us for this research including participants from various UN agencies, INGOs and LGBT human rights organizations who took the time to speak with us for this research. We informed all participants of the findings from the 2022 interviews that shape this report and will continue to co-develop future work the participants as we engage in future efforts for supporting queer feminist mobilizations for peace and security

Next steps:

In September of this year Queen’s University Belfast will host a workshop to further these queer feminist mobilizations in peace and security, bringing some of these activists together for a two day convening.

The research for this policy brief was funded by Outright International as part of the internal report Mapping Entry Points for Queering Peace and Security Responses.

Read the policy brief below. Read others in the Queering WPS series here.

New Policy Brief Series launches with ‘Opportunities for Queering the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda’

Inspired by a prior research collaboration between New York University and the Global Network for Women Peacebuilders highlighting the experiences of young women in official Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) programming, Dennis Aveta focused his master’s thesis on the engagement (or lack thereof) of LGBTQ+ peacebuilders and communities in YPS spaces.

The research project sought to fill the gap in peace and security literature focused on queering such spaces with the hope of illuminating the current state of inclusion of LGBTQ+ peacebuilders as well as the substantive engagement of their priorities and concerns in foundational YPS resolutions and subsequent programming.

Drawing on the experiences and expertise of LGBTQ+ academics, peace and security professionals, as well as queer youth activists, the research begins by outlining some of the most pressing peacebuilding priorities and security concerns of LGBTQ+ youth communities. Moving on, it examines the experiences of queer peacebuilders in Woman, Peace and Security (WPS) spaces before shedding light on the inclusion of young LGBTQ+ peacebuilders in YPS.

Thanks to many of the interviewees having worked in both the WPS and YPS movements, there was a particular opportunity to directly compare the progress that each agenda has made towards substantively embracing LGBTQ+ communities and their issues.

This policy brief serves as a foundational resource for civil society actors to expand their understanding and knowledge regarding the experiences of young LGBTQ+ peacebuilders. Working alongside similar research and data collection efforts currently (and/or recently) taking place focusing on LGBTQ+ communities in the context of peace and security, it also serves to state proudly and loudly that LGBTQ+ peacebuilders exist now, have always existed in these spaces before, and will continue to be a part of and lead struggles for peace moving forward.

Concluding with highlighted areas for action, this brief provides recommendations for how CSOs can take substantive steps towards better supporting LGBTQ+ peacebuilders and creating a truly intersectional movement for peace.

You can find the full policy brief as the first in our Queering Peace and Security Policy Brief Series here.

Mariconeando la agenda de Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad

En la construcción de paz no se han incluido de forma adecuada las necesidades de las mujeres lesbianas, bisexuales, trans y queer. Aunque la sociedad civil ha impulsado la implementación de la agenda de Mujeres, Paz y Seguridad, no siempre se han tenido en cuenta las formas particulares en las que las reglas del género y de la sexualidad han creado o profundizado ciertos riesgos para las mujeres LBTQ, ocasionando que sus necesidades de seguridad no sean vistas ni atendidas.

Ha sido gracias al trabajo en alianza de las organizaciones LGBTIQ+ con organizaciones feministas que progresivamente hemos incluido esta mirada. Sin embargo, a pesar de que hemos encontrado un genuino interés por incluir estas miradas interseccionales, en muchos casos las instituciones y la sociedad civil interesada no saben por dónde empezar ni cómo hacerlo.

Es por esta razón que el proyecto de investigación “Mariconeando 1 la agenda de MPS” —investigación financiada por la Academia Británica liderada por la Dra. Jamie Hagen y la Dra. Anupama Ranawana, junto con Colombia Diversa y Christian Aid Colombia—, busca analizar cómo puede mejorarse la participación de las mujeres LBTQ en los procesos de consolidación de paz y, en concreto, en la construcción de los planes nacionales para la implementación de la agenda de MPS.

En Colombia, este proyecto se adelanta durante un momento político clave: es la primera vez que nuestra tarea no es convencer al gobierno de turno de que las vidas LGBTIQ+ importan y no deben ser estigmatizadas. Con el nuevo gobierno (en particular con la vicepresidenta Francia Márquez, y la viceministra de asuntos multilaterales del ministerio de relaciones exteriores Laura Gil) parece haber una oportunidad de incluir realmente a las mujeres LBTQ en el proceso participativo para la construcción del primer Plan Nacional de Acción para la implementación de la Resolución 1325 en Colombia.

Es el momento, entonces, de avanzar sobre cómo hacerlo:
¿Cómo se ve la seguridad para las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo se ven los riesgos diferenciados que enfrentan las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo se ve la prevención, la protección, la participación, el socorro y la recuperación para las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo se ve un proceso participativo que incluya a las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo incorporar una mirada interseccional de los impactos y necesidades de las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo articular el trabajo avanzado en la agenda MPS de las organizaciones feministas con la agenda específica de las mujeres LBTQ?

¿Cómo articular los avances en la inclusión de las mujeres LBTQ en la agenda de MPS con el trabajo en construcción de paz de los movimientos sociales LGBTIQ+?

Para responder a estos cómos debemos tejer conversaciones de largo aliento entre las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y la institucionalidad. El pasado 12 de octubre nos reunimos con lideresas LBTQ constructoras de paz en distintos territorios del país y lideresas feministas que han trabajado en el impulso de la agenda de Mujeres Paz y Seguridad desde instancias nacionales e internacionales. Este taller fue un espacio enriquecedor en el que desde distintas perspectivas reflexionamos sobre preguntas claves para avanzar en la inclusión de mujeres LBTQ en esta agenda. Entre ellos se destaca la necesidad de cuestionar, consolidar y posicionar el concepto mariconear como adaptación al contexto colombiano del término queering; la pregunta sobre un concepto de seguridad realista pero comprensivo de las vidas LBTQ, y la importancia de reforzar esfuerzos feministas con interseccionalidad desde varias esferas del trabajo que adelanta este movimiento social.

Estas preguntas intentarán responderse en una caja de herramientas que brinde insumos prácticos para los actores relevantes en la materialización de esta inclusión. Esperamos que este proceso sea solo el inicio de una conversación sostenida con la institucionalidad y las organizaciones feministas involucradas en la implementación de esta agenda.

Blog original publicado por Colombia Diversa aquí.

Colombian LBTQ peacebuilders and feminist leaders discuss Queering WPS

Lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer women haven’t been properly included in peacebuilding processes around the world. Although civil society has pushed for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, it hasn’t always taken into account the particular ways in which gender and sexuality rules have created or deepened certain risks for LBTQ women, causing their security needs to go unseen and unaddressed.

It has been thanks to the alliance work of LGBTIQ+ organizations with feminist organizations that we have progressively included this perspective. However, even though we have found a genuine interest in including these intersectional perspectives, in many cases the institutions and civil society concerned don’t know where to start or how to do it.

That is why the research project “Queering Women, Peace and Security Agenda” -research funded by the British Academy, led by Dr. Jamie Hagen, Dr. Anupama Ranawana, Colombia Diversa and Christian Aid Colombia-, seeks to analyze how the participation of LBTQ women can be improved in peacebuilding processes and, specifically, in the formulation of national action plans for the implementation of the WPS agenda.

In Colombia, this project is taking place during a key political moment: we don’t need to convince the government that LGBTIQ+ lives matter and shouldn’t be stigmatized. With the new government (in particular with Vice President Francia Marquez, and Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Laura Gil) there seems to be an opportunity to truly guarantee the participation of LBTQ women in the construction of the first National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 in Colombia.

Now we move on to the whats and hows.
What does security mean for LBTQ women?

What do the specific risks faced by LBTQ women look like?

What does prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery look like for LBTQ women?

How should a participation look like in order to include LBTQ women?

How to incorporate an intersectional approach on the impacts and needs of LBTQ women?

How to articulate the work advanced in the WPS agenda of feminist organizations with the specific agenda of LBTQ women?

How to articulate the advances in the inclusion of LBTQ women in the WPS agenda with the peacebuilding work of LGBTIQ+ social movements?

To answer these whats and hows we must engage in long-term conversations between civil society organizations and institutions. In October 12, we met with local LBTQ peacebuilders and feminist leaders who have been working (nationally and internationally) to promote the Women, Peace and Security agenda. This workshop was an enriching space in which we reflected on these whats and hows together from different perspectives. From this space emerged key aspects to advance the inclusion of LBTQ women in this agenda. The need to question, consolidate and position the concept of mariconear as an adaptation of the term queering to the Colombian context stands out, next to a realistic definition of “security” and the importance to continue doing intersectional work from these social movements.

These questions will attempt to be answered in a toolkit that aims to provide practical inputs for the relevant stakeholders to make LGBTQ women’s inclusion happen. We hope that this workshop has been the beginning of an ongoing conversation with institutions and feminist organizations involved in the implementation of this agenda.

Original blog published by Colombia Diversa here.

Talk4Peace project explores Transformative Mediation and Inclusive Peacebuilding

Talk4Peace is a new project funded by the North-South Research Programme, jointly led by Dr Maria-Adriana Deiana, from Queen’s University Belfast and co-director of the Centre for Gender in Politics, and Dr Heidi Riley, from the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin.

This project seeks to further our understanding of transformative mediation as a mechanism for peacebuilding and inclusive dialogue in the island of Ireland, tackling a topic that has received insufficient attention in academic research and policy. 

It explores transformative mediation’s potential to open alternative practices of conflict mediation and peacebuilding that centre recognition, agency and knowledges of a wide range of communities in contexts shaped by armed conflict. 

To achieve these goals, the project explicitly examines how a gender and intersectional lens can be better incorporated into practices of peace mediation as a way to challenge the continuing lack of recognition of women and other minoritised groups as mediators. In committing to an inclusive research process, involving extensive cross-border dialogue across the island, the project also explores the role of innovative tools used to maximise inclusion and outreach in mediation practices, including arts and cultural practices.

The project builds on extensive engagement and collaboration with mediation practitioners and other relevant civil society organisations involved in peace mediation.  One of the project’s publications will be a toolkit for transformative mediation to be shared widely with practitioners and policymakers nationally and internationally.

The project launch in July brought together  practitioners, academics, artists, and policymakers to explore the transformative potential of alternative forms of conflict mediation centred around a commitment to inclusive and creative practices.  

Speakers included:

Ilaria Tucci -Researcher & Practitioner in Tampere University, expert in the use of community theatre methods as a way to encourage inclusive and participatory dialogue. 

Laura Davis -Mediation practitioner, Gender and peacebuilding expert EPLO Brussels.

Patty Abozaglo -Mediation practitioner and researcher based in Maynooth University, worked extensively in Colombia and other parts of South America

Yaser Alashqar -Mediation practitioner and trainer, based in TCD Dublin with extensive mediation experience and specialist in Israeli/Palestinian context.

Bebhinn McKinlay -Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth Network, Northern Ireland representative 

International Perspectives on Trans Rights and Policy in the context of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands

As part of 2022 Belfast Pride celebrations the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK, the Centre for Gender in Politics at Queen’s University Belfast and HERe NI hosted the event offering international perspectives on trans rights and policy. The event featured three speakers representing trans politics in unique contexts, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.  The speakers for the event were (from left to right in lead photo):

  •   Max de Blank (they/them) , Policy Officer at the Directorate of Emancipation, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) of the Netherlands
  • Alexa Moore (she/her), Co-founder and former director of TransgenderNI, currently Research and policy at the Human Rights Consortium
  • Matt Kennedy (he/him) who is an Irish Research Council Scholar and doctoral candidate in the area of trans studies in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice a University College Dublin, a writer and a boxer. He is currently employed in Belong To Ireland’s National LGBTQ+ youth organisation as the policy and research officer as well as completing his PhD on transnormativity.

The panel focused on four themes: gender recognition, health care, connecting trans rights with other social justice issues and how allies can help support trans communities facing anti-trans backlash.

To begin, each of the panelists reflected on each of the different legal contexts for gender recognition policies and practices. Max began by detailing how in the Netherlands there has been significant progress over the past decade and the state has even publicly apologized for the suffering experienced by the transgender and intersex community as a consequence of the terms of the former Transgender Act, that up until 2014 required medical procedures including permanent sterilization before allowing a legal gender change to one of two binary gender options. In 2020 the Dutch government agreed to pay compensations to trans victims of sterilization. There is now momentum in the country from both the government and the medical field to improve the support for people transitioning, including a plan to introduce paid leave for trans people during their transition.

The panelists spoke of the harm caused by pathologizing legislation that requires trans patients to undergo lengthy medical approval prior to having access to legal gender recognition. Alexa explained that instead of the current highly medicalized procedure in NI, the trans community are advocating for a process of self-identification. She continued, ‘It’s not up to some cisgender doctor, some panel of gender experts, to adjudicate your gender, it should be up to the trans people. It should be up to the individuals who know themselves people than anyone else.‘

The Republic of Ireland does currently allow this process of self-declaration, however there are still serious shortcomings.  For example, there is still a lack of acknowledgement for intersex and nonbinary folks within current policy, and those who are aged 16 and 17 need parental consent from both parents along with two psychiatric assessments. Young people under 16s do not have access to any form of legal gender recongition under the current legislation in the republic of Ireland. Acknowledging the damaging impact of this legislation Matt asks, ‘Why have we made stipulations around which trans people are allowed to effectively become citizens? Who is left out of this legislation?’  Concluding his reflections on the topic, he argued that although previous equality measures were put to a referendum in the Republic (e.g. repealing the 8th, marriage equality) the same should not be true for policies like gender recognition. ‘It’s not at all appropriate for trans people to grovel for their participation in social, political and economic life.’

Trans healthcare is in a dismal state across the contexts addressed by the panelists. Alexa and Matt shared their own personal experiences in trying to access basic trans health care and remaining on waiting lists for years. The wait list for access to medical support for trans people is currently estimated to be 1-3 years in the Netherlands, at last report, the waiting list was around 4 years in Northern Ireland and up to 10 years in the Republic.

When trans people can afford to, many turn to private care, while others have turned to community care. ‘Now all of my care is from the UK. I travelled abroad for surgery, and all of my hormones are through what’s called Shared Care. I have a GP in Dublin who prescribes my hormones’, Matt explained.  He points to this model as the model those committed to improving trans-affirming care should be supporting, outlining that often transition related healthcare is contained within underresourced gender clinics which are ‘Not a helpful model at all. They serve only to further pathologize trans people and to remove them from all of the other spaces where they access general care.’ Community based models of care better serve trans people as they are localised and more appropriately placed to meet the wraparound health and wellbeing needs of an individual including their transition related needs. 

All the speakers made connections between trans policy and other socio-economic issues. Homelessness is an example of socio-economic issue that research in the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands has already shown disproportionately negatively impacts trans youth who may be kicked out of their homes after coming out to their family as trans.  In the context of NI Alexa points to the real need for a Bill of Rights to help support multiple human rights concerns together. She argues, ‘So many of the rights we’re talking about today healthcare, legal recognition and the right to private family life, right to a home, all of these issues could be covered and we could start to build this rights based society and unique policies within a human rights framework if we had a bill of rights for NI.’  A Bill of Rights for NI was promised as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Though there was much emphasis on the need to improve legal protections and policies for trans equality, Max cautioned that focusing on rights alone is not enough: ‘Rights are very important, but having rights does not mean that all discrimination is being solved. That is why the Dutch government also invests in education, for example by supporting Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) in schools’, they said.

Alongside reflecting on the current policy landscape for trans rights, participants shared their thoughts on how cis people can be allies to the trans community. This was on the mind of many participating in pride events this year. Danielle Roberts who is the Senior Policy and Development officer for  HEReNI, and moderator for the panel, invited those planning to march in the Belfast Pride parade to join the trans inclusionary feminist block.

Matt’s concluding thoughts resonated with the whole room when he pointed to the need for coalitional organizing to achieve the transformation necessary to achieve gender justice for trans communities. ‘I can’t do that myself. I can’t do that just as a trans person. I can’t do it just in trans community. I need everyone along with me.’ Together the panelists made it clear that improving rights and policies for trans people ultimately  benefits trans and cis people alike.

This event was part of the Just Talk(s) event series organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK.

Queering Women, Peace and Security project focuses on Improving Engagement with queer women in peacebuilding

The Queering Women, Peace and Security (WPS) project is a British Academy funded Innovation Fellowship led by Dr. Jamie Hagen from Queen’s University Belfast and co-director of the Centre for Gender in Politics, and Anupama Ranawana from Christian Aid UK, which focuses on improving engagement with lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBTQ) women in WPS Programming.

 The full research team also includes María Susana Peralta Ramón of Colombia Diversa who will serve as research coordinator on the project, and Nathalie Mercier of Christian Aid Colombia who will serve as research assistant.

The year-long fellowship focuses on the role of including LBTQ women in the development and implementation of Women, Peace and Security National Action Plans and contributes to a larger effort of taking a critical security studies approach to understanding peacebuilding.

 The project comes at an important time with the ongoing development of the UK’s third National Action Plan for implementing Women, Peace and Security and plans for the first Women, Peace and Security National Action Plan in Colombia.

One of the key publications from the project will be a toolkit which will provide training opportunities for Women, Peace and Security practitioners and enable knowledge exchange from LGBTQ organizations in the future to be published in Spring 2023. Workshops in Bogotá with key stakeholders from the LGBTQ community are central to the research project.

The Queering Women, Peace and Security project engages with and supports ongoing work to queer gender, peace and security efforts through collaboration with the leading Colombian LGBTIQ+ organization Colombia Diversa.   The research team will also explore what queer theory and LGBTQ advocacy might offer for improving Women, Peace and Security implementation practices internationally when ensuring a gender perspective in all peace and security efforts.